The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
City pitches tax rate increase
A real estate tax increase and a cost-of-living raise for city employees are part of the proposed budget for fiscal 2014 Fredericksburg City Manager Beverly Cameron presented to the City Council Tuesday night.
Cameron proposed a 3-cent real estate tax increase, which would raise it from the current 74 cents to 77 cents per $100 of assessed value.
That would make the median tax bill (a home assessed at $256,200) $1,972.74, or an additional $76.86 per year—$6.40 per month.
Each penny of real estate tax generates $355,000 at this rate.
The city’s general fund budget—$82.6 million—is increased 5.13 percent over the fiscal 2013 budget figure of $78.5 million.
Under the proposal, city schools would receive $26.12 million, which is $1.2 million more than last year’s allocation. It includes 3 percent pay increases—2 percent for cost-of-living and 1 percent for the Virginia Retirement System phase-in that employees are required to pay. It also includes six new full-time positions and four new part-time positions.
The city previously gave the school system $1.4 million to construct an addition to Hugh Mercer Elementary School.
This is the first year the city will pay the full cost of the debt service—$2.1 million—for the new $35 million courthouse. The payment is an increase of $700,000 over last year’s payment.
Similar to school employees, city workers will get a 2 percent raise for cost-of-living and a 1 percent raise to offset their required additional 1 percent contribution to the Virginia Retirement System. These increases will cost the city $495,255.
The cost of health insurance has increased and will cost the city 14.8 percent more than last year, or $10,470 total per employee per year. The total cost for the city is $503,880 from the general fund.
Cameron proposed 6.5 new full-time-equivalent positions in the budget.
Of those, 3.5 would be for sheriff’s deputies. And two medics would be hired to move the city toward around-the-clock advanced life-support coverage. Cameron said it will take about three years to reach the around-the-clock status, but that the coming year would be a start toward achieving that.
The final full-time position would be a purchasing agent.
All of the new positions were from the suggestion of an efficiency study done by a consultant earlier this year.
In response to a water and sewer management study done last year, Cameron suggested increases to the water, sewer and trash rates. The water and sewer rates would each show increases of less than 10 percent.
The trash fee would increase $1.50 per month, or $3 on a bimonthly bill under the proposed budget.
The proposed budget includes allocating $70,000 for the city’s Main Street program to fund organizational activities and hire a staff. In last year’s budget, the program was allocated $30,000.
The City Council will discuss the proposed budget in work sessions over the next several weeks.
Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413